Reliever Ugueth Urbina’s debut for the Phillies last night was less than auspicious — he did everything humanly possible to help the Rangers avoid being swept. The Detroit Free Press’ John Lowe reports the skids for Urbina’s departure were greased by a fight aboard the Tigers’ charter last Sunday night.
On the team’s private flight to Los Angeles for the series with the Dodgers that began Monday, Urbina triggered some sort of altercation with one or more people on the team, people familiar with the episode acknowledged Thursday.
On Wednesday, 7 1/2 weeks before the trading deadline, the Tigers swapped Urbina and reserve infielder Ramon Martinez to Philadelphia for veteran infielder Placido Polanco.
In today’s game in Colorado, Polanco can start coming to the rescue at second base (where he replaces slumping Omar Infante) and in the batting order’s No. 2 spot (where he is proven and where the Tigers have provided little production).
In the Tigers’ world, an Urbina trade this season seemed inevitable before he misbehaved on the plane. Did the episode on the plane accelerate Dombrowski’s timetable for dealing him?
“I don’t talk about anything that happens on the team plane or in the clubhouse,” Dombrowski said Thursday.
He left unanswered the question of whether Urbina’s conduct on the plane hastened his departure — a departure that left him without the closer’s role he covets. The Phillies have a closer, Billy Wagner. They wanted Urbina because they needed another late-inning reliever, and they could trade Urbina by July 31 to a team that needs a closer.
But the trade surprised many fans because Urbina hadn’t given up a run in 10 straight appearances.
Showing what happens when you disrespect a Hall Of Famer, the Nationals have traded Tomo Ohka to Milwaukee in exchange for Junior Spivey. Washington also claimed Ryan Drese, the Rangers’ opening day starter who was placed on waivers earlier this week.